Thursday, 2 April 2015

Wizard of Oz Election?

A column in The Times this week suggested the forthcoming election was like a contest between the Wizard of Oz characters Tin Man and Scarecrow; a party with no heart versus one with no head.  It went on to suggest the SNP was exploiting these mainstream shortcomings.

In my judgement, the SNP takes to even more egregious lengths than the mainstream parties the art of promising the manifestly undeliverable before wrapping the whole package in the mawkishness of a pledge to  deliver the victims of non-existent oppression from their imaginary chains. If ever there was a political grouping careless of its own shortcomings it is the SNP.

In democratic practice however practical shortcomings do not matter. The electorate are not going to check your sums; they are not likely to understand that today's over-consumers are stealing from future generations. They will even perceive unpalatable statistics as lies generated by a conspiracy. They feel that once upon a time we seemed to be able to afford things we allegedly can't afford now. The only possible explanation for this is government mean spiritedness.

Before the crash the Blair/Brown years delivered statistical growth by bloating the public sector and encouraging reckless borrowing; the coalition has restored statistical growth on the back of domestic consumption. (Though to be fair the Eurozone debacle has hardly provided them with a feast of export potential.) It's all done with smoke and mirrors.

I'm not sure about heads and hearts. Perhaps we should remember that the central government of Oz was also based on a populist fraud.